Howard had a miserable game by his standards and missed free throw after free throw down the stretch that allowed Steve Blake to hit a game winning three-pointer and ultimately cost the Rockets the game. Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni used the “Hack-A-Dwight” strategy to perfection as the Lakers fouled him at will and he continued to miss freebies from the charity stripe as Lakers minus Kobe Bryant pulled off the major upset in Houston.
Some people around the league think this strategy should be banned, but you can’t tell me you are really an elite player if you can’t hit free throws in the clutch. Howard has not played up to his max contract in Houston. He is the type of big man that needs the ball to thrive, and he needs to demand the ball.
Instead he is going through the motions and coasting through certain games as star guard James Harden carries the team on his back. Harden had another monster showing with 35 points, but it looks like the drama and baggage that surrounds Howard is not worth it.
The Rockets may have to consider benching Howard late in the fourth quarter in close games. This team can’t afford to keep losing games this way, and make no mistake about it; Howard cost them this one with his woeful free throw shooting.
Your $88 million player on the bench in crunch time? It sounds crazy, but it may be the Rockets’ only option if they want to win close games.